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Elimination from FA Trophy could be a blessing in disguise for promotion chasing Slough Town

Jon Underwood believes Slough Town’s elimination from the FA Trophy this week could benefit their league form, but that doesn’t mask the disappointment felt after Tuesday’s 3-2 replay defeat to Concord Rangers.

Having gone out of the FA Cup earlier than anticipated this season, Underwood felt there was space in the side’s usually hectic schedule for a Trophy run.

But, after scoring twice to lead 2-1 and then missing a second-half penalty in Tuesday’s replay, refereeing decisions started going against them as they plummeted to a last-gasp 3-2 defeat.

Kreshnic Krasniqi’s stoppage-time goal sent the Rebels tumbling out of the competition, but it was the 71st minute penalty awarded to Concord, dispatched by Danny Green, which really got Underwood’s ire up.

Earlier in the game Warren Harris scored twice to hand Slough a 2-1 lead before Matt Lench ballooned a penalty over the bar.

“We had the chance to put the game to bed with the penalty,” said Underwood. “And the psychological impact of missing it was so important. It was a kick in the teeth for us and it gave them renewed belief.

"Had it gone in, we were so much in control at that stage, I think that would probably have been it. Then they get a penalty and it just confirms to them that it might be their night and not ours. We feel that, over the course of two games (the first match on Saturday was a goalless draw), we were the better side but it wasn’t to be and that’s cup football.”

The Rebels have reported the referee on Tuesday to the league, but his mistakes angered the management team far less than his mannerisms and attitude toward the players.

“I don’t make a habit of talking about refs,” said Underwood. “We’ve reported him but not because of his performance but because of the way he spoke to the players.

“There was an arrogance about him that put everyone’s back up, both management teams and players.”

Underwood says it’s now imperative the Rebels take advantage of their lack of cup football between now and the end of the season.

The second-placed side get back to National League South action at home to lowly Tonbridge tomorrow (Saturday).

“It could be beneficial (to have been knocked out),” he said.

“If you ask the players they’d rather play on Tuesdays than train but, with matches, there’s more of a chance of picking up injuries and also getting fatigued.

“We don’t have a huge squad.

“When you play on Tuesdays the Thursday training session is so often about recovery but now we can have two sessions focused on the weekend’s game and the players will be desperate for it to come round.

“We’ll have a busy Christmas period, like all teams, but if we’re still in a strong position in January we’ve got a good opportunity to push on and finish strongly.

“We’ve done that in previous seasons.

“We’ve won our last five home games and are top of the league’s form table. Tonbridge’s form has improved lately.

“They’ve done better at home more so than away but you never get an easy three points in this league.

“They’ll be looking to make life difficult for us.”

Striker Ben Harris will miss the game through suspension but midfielder Lee Togwell, who has missed the last four weeks through injury, could return to the squad.

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